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Monday, 22 February 2016

Swing Your Arms

This is a photo from my recent trip to Singapore. We'd spent the day at Universal Studios and the Revenge of the Mummy was the last roller coaster we needed to fit in before the ride closed (which explains why the cart's only half-full). We'd been avoiding buying souvenir photos the whole trip, as they're very expensive. But when I saw this one I just had to get a copy of it.


That's my friends and I taking up the front row. I'm on the left with the Living End t-shirt, Jason's in the middle and Jerida's on the right. It's a hilarious photo of course. The looks of unbridled excitement, surprise and fear on both of my friends' faces is amazing. But as well as being hilarious, I found the photo very intriguing. It was interesting to me that while they were shouting and laughing in the dark, I was sitting there quietly tensed, tucking myself in and just staring. That intrigue turned into deep thought. Why did I react so differently?

It seems pretty clear that when I get scared, I make myself as small as possible. No sudden movements. Keep my hands an feet inside at all times, just in case I touch something in the dark that I didn't expect and it gives me a fright. If I freeze, maybe the thing that's scaring us will relax and leave us alone. I was certainly enjoying the ride, don't get me wrong. But the way I handle fear seems very different to the others.

The next thing I realised is that I don't like that about myself. Look anywhere you want in the animal or human kingdom. Those who scrunch themselves up at the appearance of danger are usually those at the bottom of the pecking order. It's the gorillas that bang their chests and roar the loudest that become the leaders of the pack. In the one year that I played football, the coaches always told us that the players that run straight into a pack head first will usually be the ones the least hurt. The ones that hesitate for fear will be the ones who get injured.

So I made a resolution right then to swing my arms more. To open my body up and challenge anything or anyone that threatens me. When I hear I loud noise, I won't jump and shrink back, I'll turn and lean towards it. When I'm scared of getting hit, I'll let go of the handlebar, reach up and embrace it. I'll get the most out of my tiny frame and make it as big as possible. Because as Jerida said:

"Only you can take a simple snapshot from a ride and turn it into a life-changing realisation."

16 comments:

  1. I don't blame you for being scared, though, with all that fire and all.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Alright, I promise not to run head-first into fire. Everything else is fair game.

      Delete
  2. You got your money's worth out of that photo!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Michael, I would not have even dared to ride that thing.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Actually, I do think I have a good ability to act despite the presence of fear.

      Delete
  4. Just don't get hit.
    You can obviously embrace it though. Just look at your photos from sky diving.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's true. Although there's nothing to hit for miles up there.

      Delete
  5. Ya being a bit hard on yourself mate.

    We all have the flight or fight response of our autonomic nervous system. But no one thinks of the third response which is to delay a response which is what I see you doing. You are also displaying higher brain functioning.

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    Replies
    1. I'd like to train my brain to default to 'fight' ;)

      Delete
  6. Different things make different people 'shrink' into themselves. The guys who dive into the pile in football might turn green at giving blood. We all have our fears.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Is it just a coincidence or did you know I actually turn green at giving blood?

      Delete
  7. I love the smile on that little fella's face behind you guys. He's not at all scared, he's enjoying the heck out of it.

    Good point about the animals in the kingdom. I'm a shrinker too, but I like to think it's because I have a writer's heart and my specialty is observation and not so much exploration. And I'm okay with that.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I too tend to be an observer, but I'm never happy just picking one side of the fence. I want the advantages of being both the observer and the explorer!

      Delete
  8. I think you were handling fear in the most practical sense. Your football coaches were madmen, "the players that run straight into a pack head first will usually be the ones the least hurt"? What!?! That's an insane prescription for a concussion or broken ankle. Least hurt or most likely not to be concerned with self preservation? Like others have noted, I'd rather be like that kid and greet mystery with wide-eyed, gleeful intrigue.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hahaha it's actually true, I've seen it in action. I once got a cracked rib for hovering timidly on the edge of a pack while others charged in.

      Delete

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